Vaccination in the Workplace – Can an Employer Require an Employee to be Vaccinated

October 7, 2021

in COVID-19,Employment

There have been a multitude of issues that have arisen as a result of COVID-19 for businesses and employees.

One aspect that is now becoming relevant is the question of whether or not an employer can require an employee to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

There is also the question of whether an existing employee can be required to get vaccinated or risk dismissal.

On the second point the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has recently issued a decision under urgency because of the importance of the matter, finding that an employer’s dismissal of a border worker was justified in the circumstances. It is important to recognise that this decision is very much specific to the factual circumstances which included the determination that the employee in question was affected by a Government Health Order relating to frontline border protection workers.

The ERA also noted that the employer had fully and fairly balanced all the issues in terms of justification and process and acted in good faith throughout. Including the employer assessing whether the employee could be reassigned to a different role with less risks around non vaccination. Such reassignment was not an option in this particular case.

This decision has recently also been confirmed as correct by the High Court.

The decision shows common-sense in the circumstances. We are advising our clients that each case must be considered based on its specific circumstances. It should certainly not be treated as a decision justifying dismissal of an employee that refuses to vaccinate as a matter of general law or where no government health order is in place justifying the employer’s stance.

We are advising both employers and employees on all COVID related issues at this time and can assist you in determining the correct approach to take in these circumstances.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry Law who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Paul Farry
09 353 6671

The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry Law does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. 

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